Lukas completed a BCom in Accounting at North-West University in 2009 and joined a medium sized audit firm in Cape Town in 2010. He qualified as a chartered accountant, CA(SA) in 2013 and stayed on as an audit manager for 3 years. As audit manager, Lukas was responsible for the audits of large multi-national listed companies, gaining valuable experience in complex local and international laws and regulations. Lukas joined HeroTel in 2015 as Group Financial Manager and was tasked with establishing a shared finance function at the Stellenbosch headquarters. He has a passion for commerce and companies and spends most of his off time reading and researching companies’ transactions and financial results, as well as following successful business leaders.
Eldred Ekermans founded TrueCom in 2009, providing both Wireless and Fibre connectivity to over thirty towns in the North West province. He holds a Hons BCom degree in Industrial Psychology from North West University and was involved in many business ventures before building his first ISP, with the help of his brother. Eldred managed to build over 240km of high quality fibre networks before Truecom was purchased by Herotel, whom immediately recognised him as a key technology though leader within the group. Eldred was appointed to the role of Chief Technology Officer in February 2019.
Wanti du Preez is the founder of Internet Generation (IGEN), a Port Elizabeth based ISP with over 10 000 customers in the Eastern Cape. Having successfully consolidated many of the smaller ISP players in the Eastern Cape, Wanti and his team joined HeroTel in 2018. Since joining, Wanti has successfully integrated all of HeroTel’s Eastern Cape businesses into a cohesive regional team. Based on this success, Wanti was appointed to the role of National General Manager in April 2019. Wanti is an expert in both technical and commercial operations and is key to driving integration and standardisation within the HeroTel group.
James Devine started his career as a computer technician in 2000 and, after diligently worked his way through the ranks at various ISP’s, he became one of the founding members of Project Isizwe in 2013. As the Chief Technology Officer, James and his team build one of the largest public WiFi Networks on the African Continent. It was during this time that he was also involved with the beginning of HeroTel, where he has been involved in technical operations since day one. James was recognised as one of the top five Visionary CIO’s in South by ITWeb, and he speaks at many key industry events about his unquenchable thirst for technology, WiFi and connecting the unconnected.
After completing a commerce degree at Stellenbosch University in 1998, Rich had serval roles in the banking and asset management industry, both abroad and in South Africa.
He became involved in ICT in 2008 when he joined a large IT hardware distribution business as their Managing Director. He grew the coastal division of this business for the first 5 years after which he assumed the role of Chief Executive.
Rich joined HeroTel in 2017 as the Chief Commercial Officer and is responsible for the organic growth of the group. His focus is on sales, marketing and product.
Helmut qualified as an electric and electronic engineer in 1998.
From 2011 to 2015 he was COO of a railway safety and control solutions company, and in four years grew the business operations from a startup to a leading provider with operations across Africa. He was key in positioning the company as a preferred supplier to Transnet Freight Rail, Nigerian Railways Corporation and others which led to a large listed entity buying the majority share in the company.
From 2006 to 2010 he was founder and CEO of an alternative power business which provided integrated power solutions to the likes of FNB on their rural and African rollouts. During this period he also consulted to governments across Central and Northern Africa and the Middle East on power station developments and power utility privatisation. From 1999 to 2005 Helmut worked with Siemens Telecommunications in software development and prepaid telecommunications managing the developments and projects for the likes of Vodacom and Cell C. He subsequently acquired mobile banking operators in Africa on behalf of FirstRand and then helped to build the mobile banking division in FNB.
After obtaining his qualification as a Chartered Accountant (SA) Francois pursued a career in the manufacturing industry. As group financial manager at a large manufacturing group his responsibilities consisted of managing the finance team, continuous review and improvement of financial systems, corporate tax and all financial reporting up to published annual financial statements.
Other valuable experience includes company valuations, transfer pricing and financial modelling.Recognising the opportunities within the South African TMT industry, Francois decided to join Ever Africa and eventually Hero Telecoms (Pty) Ltd.
Van Zyl moved from Johannesburg to Stellenbosch in 2012 to focus on the TMT industry and was part of HeroTel’s founding team. He co-invested with Alan Knott-Craig to lay the foundation for the group. He served as Financial Director, but focussed on and executed the company’s M&A strategy covering more than 30 strategic acquisitions. He was also responsible for raising capital and debt from initial angel, seed, venture, private equity, a rights issue and the current senior structured debt.
As the company is now moving towards organic growth and integration, Van Zyl was tasked by the board to serve as its Chief Executive Officer from 2019.
Before life at HeroTel, and after obtaining his qualification as a Chartered Accountant (SA) in 2003, Van Zyl continued in the profession as an audit manager. He left the financial assurance industry and created a financial consulting firm focused on across the board private equity and the mining industry. He consulted to companies listed in SA, London and New York and private equity firms in Europe and in the USA. Van Zyl has been instrumental in mergers, acquisitions and the accompanying regulatory requirements of the JSE, TRP, Competition Commission and the SARB.
He has also dealt with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the USA and American Depository Receipt programs though the Bank of New York Mellon (www.bnymellon.com). In addition he served on the forensic and litigation team of a listed company where recoveries in excess of R1.2 billion were made. Van Zyl joined the corporate world in 2006 and was promoted to serve on the board of a listed mining company as Financial Director at the age of 29.
Alan is the founder of Project Isizwe, a non-profit company managing the deployment of the largest public Free WiFi network in South Africa. He is the former CEO of Mxit, Africa’s biggest social network and founder of World of Avatar, an investment house for mobile apps for Africa.
Alan was CEO of iBurst from 2006 to 2009, building one of South Africa’s largest wireless broadband networks. In 2003 Alan founded Cellfind, one of the African continent’s first location-based services providers. Between 2003 and 2013 he co-founded and funded 17 companies in the TMT sector in Africa, including Cellfind, Lucky Mobile, iFind34600, COLV, World of Avatar, Toodu, FSMS, Triloq, 6th Line, Daily Maverick, ARC Telecoms, Pondering Panda, MorMor Media and Boom.fm.
In April 2008 Alan published Don’t Panic, a best-selling book aimed at persuading South Africans to stay in the country. In 2009 he was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2012 he co-authored Mobinomics, the story of Mxit, the biggest social network originating in Africa. In 2014 he published Really, Don’t’ Panic and Moenie Stres Nie, a follow up the 2008 edition of Don’t Panic. Alan qualified as a Chartered Accountant (SA) in 2002.